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Still no Clowe for Sharks, but return could be soon

by Eric Gilmore
SAN JOSE -- Sharks forward Ryane Clowe skated for the second straight day Tuesday morning, but he'll miss his sixth straight game tonight when San Jose faces Columbus at HP Pavilion as he continues to recover from a facial fracture.

Clowe was hurt Jan. 10 at Minnesota when he went face-first into the glass. He played the next three games -- the first two while wearing a protective cage -- but not since then, and remains on injured reserve.

"I feel good," Clowe said after practice. "Obviously back on the ice yesterday and today, doing everything pretty normal and feeling good. I think I'll be back this week."

Clowe said he wants to make sure his fracture has healed to the point where it can withstand a blow when he returns.

"I guess the biggest worry is just getting hit there again," Clowe said. "I don't want to keep wearing a cage when I come back. I want to make sure if I do get hit there, if something happened and I get in a fight and get punched there, I'm not out another few weeks. The time's up to where it should be healed now."

Clowe said he never took a baseline concussion test after being injured in Minnesota because he never felt any concussion symptoms.

"My nose was bleeding, but I didn't feel anything like that," Clowe said. "As far as my head and all that, I felt good. No issues with that. We flew after the game, and I was fine."

After facing Columbus, the Sharks next game is Thursday at home against Dallas. Although Clowe said he hopes he's good to go against the Stars, there's no guarantee at this point.

"If he was completely comfortable and good we'd play him tonight," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He's that important to our team. The sooner the better, but the other thing we have to consider is not only the injury but the fact he hasn't skated in a while. We want to make sure that when he does go in he's ready to play and play the way he can."

The Sharks are also missing top-six forward Martin Havlat, who will miss his 18th straight game Tuesday night. Havlat is recovering from surgery to repair a partially torn hamstring tendon, but McLellan said he’s making good progress.

"When I came back from the All-Star break and walked in and he met me in the hallway, he looked really good," McLellan said. "That was the best I've seen him look. No crutches, no limp, walking very good. I think from this point forward it's about getting it strengthened up and conditioning now. I can't pinpoint a day for you, but the sooner the better."

McLellan said he doesn't even know when Havlat will return to the ice and resume practicing.

"I don't know what the training staff is thinking," he said. "I just know that he looked real good and he was bright again, he was smiling, and that's a big step in the right direction."

With Havlat and Clowe out, the Sharks recalled forward John McCarthy from Worcester of the AHL, and he will likely center the fourth line against Columbus.

Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray, meanwhile, will reach a milestone tonight when he plays in his 400th career game, all with San Jose.

"I love playing here," Murray said. "I don’t know if there's 29 other teams that don't want me or if I'm doing something right."

Murray, 31, is in his seventh season with the Sharks.

"I've got to be on some sort of record for how long it took me to get to 400," said a joking Murray.

Here's how the lineups could look tonight:

Andrew Desjardins - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Benn Ferriero
Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - John McCarthy - Andrew Murray/Jim Vandermeer

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Douglas Murray - Brent Burns
Colin White - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

Vinny Prospal - Antoine Vermette - Rick Nash
R.J. Umberger - Derick Brassard - Ryan Johansen
Ryan Russell - Samuel Pahlsson - Derek Dorsett
Colton Gillies - Derek MacKenzie - Jared Boll

Fedor Tyutin - Brett Lebda
John Moore - Marc Methot/David Savard
Aaron Johnson - Grant Clitsome

Steve Mason
Curtis Sanford

Mason will get the start in goal for Columbus, interim coach Todd Richards said. Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi, first off the ice after Tuesday morning's skate, is expected to start for San Jose. Blue Jackets defenseman Marc Methot missed the morning skate because of an illness and is questionable for the game. David Savard would likely take Methot’s place if he can't play. San Jose defenseman Jason Demers will miss the game with a lower-body injury, but defenseman Brent Burns will return to the lineup after missing one game because of a knee-to-knee collision Jan. 23 at Edmonton.  Sharks defenseman Jim Vandermeer skated with the forwards Tuesday morning, but McLellan said he didn't know whether he'd be in the lineup. Vandermeer saw action at forward in the Sharks' last game before the All-Star Game break against Calgary.
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